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Democrats Have Edge Ahead of Midterms, But Republican Interest Up

Mark Niquette, Ros Krasny
An American flag flies outside the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 21, 2018. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi want President Trump's administration to "exhaust all necessary resources" to reunite asylum-seeking families split up under his now reversed zero-tolerance immigration policy. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

Democrats hold a 12 percentage-point edge in congressional preference among registered voters, but enthusiasm among Republicans is starting to pick up six weeks ahead of crucial mid-term elections, a new poll shows.

The national NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released Sunday said 52 percent of registered voters say they would prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, against 40 percent who want Republicans to remain in charge. The lead for Democrats is up from 8 percentage points in August and the highest so far in the survey.

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Democrats would win an estimated 224 seats if the elections were held today, more than the 218 needed for a majority, according to a separate CBS News Battleground Tracker survey conducted by YouGov. That’s two seats higher than a month ago and six seats more than in June, though the margin of error is plus or minus 12 seats -- meaning while Democrats will almost certainly gain, Republicans could still maintain control, the survey found.

Mid-term elections are often seen as referendums on the incumbent president, and the party holding the White House almost always loses seats.

In that vein, a combined 59 percent of voters in the NBC/WSJ poll said they would like to see either a “great deal” or “quite a bit” of change in the direction President Donald Trump has been leading the country. Many said they want Congress to serve as more of a check and balance on Trump.

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Sending a Signal

Americans are “trying to send the signal that they’re not satisfied,” Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollsters at Hart Research Associates, said in a release.

Still, Republicans seem more motivated to get to the polls than they have been recently, according to the poll. Among people thought most likely to vote in the Nov. 6 elections, the edge for Democrats narrowed to 8 percentage points, 51 percent to 43 percent, compared with the sample of registered voters, the poll showed. And a large majority of voters -- almost 70 percent -- are satisfied with the economy.

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Democrats also held a 4 percentage-point lead over Republicans among those who say they’re very interested in the midterms, down from leads for Democrats of 11 percentage points in August and 16 percentage points in July, the poll found.

Trailing Democrats

Republicans trailed Democrats among moderates and independents by more than 30 percentage points, and they were down among woman aged 50 and older by almost 20 percentage points. Among voters in competitive congressional districts, Republican support lagged by 12 percentage points, the poll showed.

The survey of 900 voters was conducted Sept. 16-19. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points. The margin of error among 594 likely voters was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The CBS poll is based on interviews of 4,557 registered voters conducted online Sept. 17-21 by YouGov in 61 competitive and likely competitive Congressional districts.

Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to take the House and two to win the Senate in November.

Updates with CBS News poll in third paragraph.

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